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Report: Texas Ranks Near the Bottom in Tobacco Settlement Spending

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Texas is only spending 2.4 percent of the tobacco settlement money it collects on tobacco prevention campaigns, placing the state near the bottom of the Centers for Disease Control's recommended state-spending list, according to a December report.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids' report states that Texas will collect $1.8 billion for fiscal year 2013 in tobacco taxes and money from the 1998 settlement agreement between four tobacco companies and 46 state attorneys general, but has only earmarked $6.5 million "for tobacco prevention and cessation." The CDC recommends that Texas "spend $266.3 million a year to have an effective, comprehensive tobacco prevention program." Texas ranks 41st in recommended spending, according to the report.

The report notes that, while the amount is "an increase from what was spent in FY2012, it is half of what was spent on tobacco prevention in FY2010 and FY2011."

But while Texas ranks low, all but two states -- Alaska and North Dakota -- are spending at CDC-recommended levels. Only three states -- Delaware, Wyoming and Hawaii -- allocate half of the recommended spending. (According to our estimates, the combined population of those five states is like 150 people, so they don't have all that much to be excited about).

All told, "the states will collect $25.7 billion in revenue from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend only 1.8 percent of it -- $459.5 million -- on programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit," according to the report. "This means the states are spending less than two cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use."

Oh man, all this disappointing news makes us want to step outside for a relaxing break in Marlboro Country, where the flavor is. Maybe next year Texas will move up in the ranks.

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